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What’s the difference between preventative maintenance and reactive maintenance?

Q:

What’s the difference between preventative maintenance and reactive maintenance?

A:

Maintenance is an essential part of keeping equipment performing effectively and for as long as possible. Maintenance is inevitably associated with both downtime and cost, so it is sometimes put off in hopes of maximizing production and profit. This avoidance can be detrimental in the long run, so it's important to distinguish between preventative and reactive maintenance.

Preventative vs Reactive Maintenance

Preventative maintenance addresses possible issues before they occur, reducing the chances of unexpected equipment failure. Preventative maintenance includes cleaning, part replacement, and proper inspection of equipment to detect and subsequently correct problems before they become bigger problems. Acting in a preventative manner is proactive and can improve both equipment lifetimes and safety outcomes (learn more in How Proactivity in the Field Improves Worker Safety).

Reactive maintenance occurs after equipment has broken down, often unexpectedly. Unexpected equipment failure results in increased expenses such as more costly repairs, paid overtime to fix the equipment, and unplanned downtime.


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Real World Example

An easy example of preventative versus reactive maintenance can be seen with car maintenance. It is recommended that you change the oil in your car on a regular basis. This is preventative maintenance, because you are addressing the issue of having overused oil before your car actually has any major issues.

If, instead, you never change your oil, your engine will start to run less efficiently and eventually will fail, leaving you without transportation and possibly in need of a new car. You would be reactively maintaining your car since you waited until it failed before having it serviced or replaced. While it does cost money and take time to get your oil changed, it is less costly than having your car run less efficiently and having a shorter lifetime than if you had performed regular maintenance on it.

Software Solutions

A preventative maintenance plan can be easily accomplished using data collection software (see the Benefits of Mobile Data Collection in Condition-Based Asset Management). Software can be used to determine proper maintenance schedules and help ensure these schedules are followed. By implementing a software program that works for your company, you can eliminate some of the guesswork and burden from your employees by establishing effective, automated schedules for preventative maintenance and optimize equipment performance and lifetimes.


Secure your spot in the upcoming webinar: Introduction to Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) | Wednesday, August 9, 2017 1:00 PM (ET) - Register Here

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Written by Art Maat
Profile Picture of Art Maat
In his founding role as President & CEO of Nektar Data Systems Art is responsible for supervising the products and services that the company offers. His area of expertise centers around the evangelism of industry best practices for data and asset management initiatives. He actively consults executive and operations level management of customer and partner companies.   Full Bio